Environment & Science

UC Irvine scientists help create 'flightless mosquito' to fight disease

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Scientists at UC Irvine have helped to develop "flightless mosquitoes" that might help fight disease.

Health officials deal with 50 to 100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide each year.

Female mosquitoes spread the virus that causes severe, flu-like symptoms. There's no vaccine and no way to treat it.

So UCI and British researchers have genetically altered mosquitoes so the females can't fly. They expect those flightless females to die quickly in the wild. That means they wouldn't be able to infect people with the dengue virus.

The scientists estimate the new mosquito breed could suppress native, dengue-carrying insects within six to nine months.

They say genetically altered mosquitoes might also be able to be used to fight other diseases the buzzing bugs carry, including West Nile virus and malaria.

Their study appears in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.